Tommy Bradson and co stare blankly at the crowd waiting for them to settle into their not so comfortable seats. Crammed in like sardines, we feel like sailors in an overcrowded vessel. The lights are dim, the walls are bleak and Bradson’s one-eyed gaze has us all a little edgy.
Pirate Rhapsody, Mermaid Requiem is poetic theatre that addresses the harsh undertones of love, betrayal, lust and passion. Combining song and spoken word, Bradson is accompanied by two musicians delivering live on stage elegant cello and piano tunes. The trio takes the audience on a tumultuous journey especially when Brandson sings and jokes about some of the more inappropriate topics such as sexual intercourse with overweight women and asks us to join in. There are definitely moments of awkward laughter from the crowd.
There is no doubt that Bradson has a way with words. His intense poetry and rhythmic motion has your jaw hitting the floor almost every time he opens his mouth. Clearly, Bradson has spent a great deal of time selecting each word that while delivered a bit too fast, has the crowd wanting more.
The performance as a whole amalgamates two of Bradson’s characters. We first meet a Pirate who is brash, bold, defiant and off the cuff. Perhaps Bradson’s pirate is the evil twin to that of Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean whose language is a lot more crude and disturbing. The audience interaction is sharp, witty, direct and dismissive as Bradson does well to embarrass some of us by stroking our heads, taking our hats, climbing on top of us or by pointing out our faults and failures.
We are then introduced to a Mermaid (also Bradson) with some serious psychological issues! Her wailing and sobbing about rejection, refusal, pain and sorrow got a bit much by the end but otherwise she was a somewhat charming character who played well with the audience.
Pirate Rhapsody, Mermaid Requiem brings poetry to a new level. Bradson’s melodic tone and truly astounding voice is to be applauded. His technique and knack of interchanging between song, spoken word and audience interaction ranks high; only proving the amount of physical and emotional energy required to deliver such a performance.
If astonishing adult poetry interwoven with eloquent tunes and theatrical storylines is your thing, then this is the show for you.
Reviewed by Corinna Di Niro 1st March 2011